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The Last Step

Busy Nana, running to and fro

Busy PopBob, visits Home Depot

Watch them climb up and down

Their Nashville stairway colored brown

One early morning Nana tried

To walk downstairs, and then she cried

“Oy” I missed the last step, Nana sighed

Pop Bob quickly called the Bride

We didn’t plan to visit her ER

But that was that and here we are

The Baptist staff treated me like a Queen

The best ER I’d ever seen!

Nothing’s broke just muscles torn

Leaving us a bit forlorn 

The moral of this story is:

Always look down, while dreaming up

Always hold on, but sometimes let go

Do not tempt fate, think fast move slow

Camping Out

Bob and I are camping out in our tiny Nashville house. We’ve got the fastest internet speed in our whole 38 year old pre-computer history – which is to say Cable…not yet fiber, but at least not a poor DSL country connection. The amount of cussing from my hubby’s mouth has decreased exponentially! This is just a week’s visit, getting some things ready and furniture delivered before our trip abroad and the big move. 

The Bride was sweet to meet us with coffee and wine. She had already unpacked and expanded our Zinus memory foam mattresses for the day bed in the study. The day bed is supposed to come today, hence the “camping out” phrase. I brought just enough linens to survive, and a new sofa from Article should arrive shortly. We can walk to the farmer’s market for lunch, and to a number of great restaurants for dinner. In fact, walkability was a major factor in this move. 

Well that, and two precious grandbabies.

We sent the Bride to camp in the Berkshires after our move to NJ. It was a disaster. The plan was for Bob to be the Camp Doctor for two weeks of the full season, and that part was fine. But no amount of cajoling could placate our ten year old daughter. Her “Take me Home” refrain never stopped and sleepaway camp became a one and done summer activity. The Rocker never stood a chance. 

For my part, I had loved my Camp St Joseph for Girls experience. I became a counselor-in-training there, later a waterfront counselor, and excelled in sports before Title IX. My first platonic boy crush happened one night at a dance across the lake at CSJ for Boys. For many years, well into my 30s, I would dream of camp and they were always dreams that left me happy and fulfilled. Summer camp was a time to build self confidence and strength in an era when young girls had fewer options. 

So even though I’m feeling a little unsettled, somewhere between the mountains and city life, unsteady on my feet, feeling out the neighborhood, I know this will pass. I’m “Heading into the Heart of the Dragon,” as Sally Field once said. Change doesn’t happen without a fight from your former self. This is a first step to finding our beach house; I want to be a waterfront Nana finally. We heard lots of birds singing our first morning in Nashville, and we’ve had plenty of April showers. But the sun is up and…

the universe is expanding as it should. Just look at this super computer simulation of billions of years http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/watch-universe-evolve-over-13-billion-years-180951366/

Wish List

While cleaning and decluttering my aviary, I discovered a wish list I had made back in February of 2002 while still in NJ. At that time my son was applying to college and my daughter was working at her first post-college job in DC. I was anticipating the dreaded Empty Nest syndrome. It was fun to read the 25 wishes; many have already come true! Though I do not have an agent or a cook…yet.

Strangely enough, the very first thing on my wish list is to get more organized! Which is exactly what I’m doing; I now know where every single utensil is in my kitchen, I have the perfect amount of towels, and I have thrown out all those files I kept of Rumson Borough Council meetings. I did however keep the random thank you note from readers. It’s always nice to know your copy was read, and not just used to line a bird cage. Newspapers, good stuff.

As you probably know I am NOT a list-maker. But I did pick up a book during the Cville Festival of the Book titled, “52 Lists for Happiness,” by Moorea Seal. Anita and I were talking about how we could have more fun during these Trumpconian years, how we could avoid being dragged down by politics. When I read on my Facebook feed yesterday that we had dropped the “Mother of All Bombs” on Afghanistan, during the holiest week for Christians and Jews, I thought it must be fake news. But I knew Gail, the person posting this, she is a devoted activist and feminist in her church and our community.

She held un umbrella over our heads when we marched in Cville to support Planned Parenthood. She helped organize our first trip to Richmond to march for women’s rights. Gail knows a thing or two. She probably makes lists because she knows how to get things done! Gail quoted a minister, Rev Emily Heath, who said:

Next time someone tells you this is a “Christian nation” remind them that we just bombed Afghanistan during Holy Week.

Specifically we did it on the day that Scripture tells us Christ said these words:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

Number 9 on my wish list was to have a “writing room.” A retreat from the world that was not just a corner of the dining room. As I sit here this morning looking at the journal I bought that might prompt me to make lists, I am profoundly afraid for our nation. We have an unpredictable President dropping bombs with alacrity, because his daughter was moved by dying Syrian babies, but not by a dead Syrian baby who washed up on a Greek island. But no, we can’t let Syrian refugees into our country. God Forbid.

At least Assad has decided to move civilians out of their war-torn cities, Sunnis go to Sunni territory and Shia go to Shia. That’s a step, to get the proxy war moving along. The Russians must be just as worried as we are! “The meeting in Moscow on Friday between Russian, Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers was the first held between the three allies since the US launched a missile attack on a Syrian airbase in response to the alleged chemical attack.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39597630

I am now packing up my home, about to start a new chapter. What will I carry with me, what about all the Flapper’s correspondence? Yes. The elbow noodle pictures from preschool? Probably not. Will we be welcomed into a new community? Will people ask us, as they do all over the South, “What church do you belong to?”

Well, I belong to the church of peace and love, to the people who don’t run their lives by dogma or dietary dictates. I belong to my family of all colors and faiths. I belong to the sisterhood of brave, smart women. I’m going to start my first list – The Things That Make Me Happy Right Now:

Classical Music

Ms Bean

Birds Singing

The Mountains

Spring

The GIF of Our 2 yr Old Grandson Dancing

Bob in the Buddha Garden

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A Gaffe

What’s happening in the world. As Tillerson jets to Russia with a “Make my Day” kind of deal, an Asian physician is dragged off a United plane while passengers documented every minute. This morning, the United CEO has done an about face, finally apologizing for the incident; and simultaneously lovely Melissa, oops, Sean Spicer got his apology right on the third try. Yes Sean, Hitler DID use chemical weapons on innocent people, they just happened to be Jews.

The Jewish people are used to this kind of thing. In fact, a dear friend just told me that one of her son’s friends/acquaintances is a Holocaust denier. And that they actually don’t say it didn’t happen anymore, just that it was more like what we did with the Japanese internment camps…. You know, like a “Holocaust Center?!”

Over the years, I’ve met relatives with numbers on their arms. My first supervisor at an outpatient mental health clinic was a child of Holocaust survivors. One of our Big Chill friends was conceived at a refugee camp in Italy after his parents were liberated from a concentration camp in Poland. I’ve been attending Seders now for almost 40 years, and yet this was the first time I actually ran the show. I knew something would go wrong. I forgot to give everyone some parsley, so I started a new tradition of a parsley posey.

This is the first time I’m actually afraid for the survival of the human race, not just one group of people. Seriously – will Russia decide to sacrifice another pawn. Or maybe North Korea will put us into checkmate?

What kind of plagues should God rain down upon us this time? At least I didn’t poison anyone at my Seder. I’m a compulsive germaphob in the kitchen. Ever since I nearly killed my first husband with a salmonella infested sandwich I picked up at a deli in Harvard Square. I made Great Grandma Ada wash her hands all the time, and we cooperated on the prep for the haroset. Maybe Mr T will get a bad case of boils? Or locusts could infest the Rose Garden?

Our trees are greening and birds are singing. Spring is a time for rebirth, not sarin gas and armageddon. In fact Sean, you were right in one detail, Hitler did NOT use sarin to exterminate 6 Million Jews, “innocent” people, even though it had been discovered by a German scientist. Some speculate it was because he was gassed in the First World War. But most scholars say it was because Churchill would have retaliated if he tried to use gas on the battlefield or in the camps.

“War is chess. Hitler would have sacrificed a lot of pieces that he couldn’t afford to lose.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/04/11/hitler-refused-to-use-sarin-gas-during-wwii-the-mystery-is-why/?utm_term=.9dc38985fc9d

The Nazis constantly searched for more efficient means of extermination. At the Auschwitz camp in Poland, they conducted experiments with Zyklon B (previously used for fumigation) by gassing some 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 250 ill prisoners in September 1941. Zyklon B pellets, converted to lethal gas when exposed to air. They proved the quickest gassing method and were chosen as the means of mass murder at Auschwitz.

At the height of the deportations, up to 6,000 Jews were gassed each day at Auschwitz. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005220

6 Thousand a day, 6 Million in WWII. Holocaust centers, killing camps. Sarin gas vs Zyklon B vs chemical weapons. A gaffe is a gaffe is a gaffe. And this whole Trump administration is one big gaffe.

Today we rode along Skyline Drive to get the long view, the balcony shot. I wish we humans could just decide not to play chess with our lives on this planet.  IMG_0305

A Proxy War

Here we go again. Last night our administration did a 180 on Syria, the whole America First thing was a sham, a synonym for Wall Street First. As a famous general pointed out this morning, we are now fighting a “proxy war,” It’s happened before – a tactical missile strike – in 1986 when Reagan bombed Libya, and last night. It’s a classic “Let’s you and him fight” scenario. We are backing the royal family of Saudia Arabia in the region, as usual, and Russia and Iran are backing Syria’s Assad regime.

And this morning all the pundits are talking. On Twitter, a Brian Williams hashtag took off because it appeared as if the network couldn’t trust Rachel Maddow to report Breaking News. In this house, I was watching Huck try to escape a sinking car on Scandal. We had been under a tornado watch, so trees were still creaking and the wind was moaning. I’d been furiously cleaning and occasionally “cooking” for Passover, which begins Monday night.

Jews everywhere will be preparing a Seder and reenacting the Exodus at their dinner tables. I am a novice Seder-maker, a maker-of-haroses for many years, but never the principle player. There will be half the number of people at my Southern table, and I won’t be making certain fried delectables in chicken fat that nobody eats. Lucky for me Ada and Hudson will be here early, so I will be tutored in the art of making perfect matzoh balls for the chicken soup!

Just as we will detail all the plagues that finally convinced a Pharaoh to let our people go, to leave slavery behind and wander in the desert, let’s examine what led up to our tactical tomahawk missile strike last night.

There was a chemical attack on innocent people, and we saw the pictures in living color. Civilians have been dying and fleeing Syria for years now, but the immediacy of watching “beautiful babies” suffer must have been Mr T’s red line. And he is a knee-jerk reactor as we know from his Twittersphere.

This last week we discovered more connections linking Trump with Russia:

  1. Eric Prince (founder of Blackwater and brother of Betsy DeVos) met a Russian official in the Seychelles with a crown prince of the UAE;
  2. Jared Kushner met a Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov, in NY, and hey, he’s willing to talk about it;
  3. Carter Page (ex-policy advisor on energy to T’s campaign) met a Russian spy, Victor Podobnyy, in NY.  http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/05/politics/trump-associates-russians-meetings/

But let’s not forget that St Petersburg was recently the target of terrorism…and that Secretary of State Tillerson is cozy with Putin…and that we called Russia to let them know we were going to strike that air base. Is that something you would do to your enemy? I can’t help but think that behind the scenes, even though Putin must publicly decry our actions, something else is going on in this proxy war. I wonder if Mr T asked his “friend,” China’s Xi, down at the Florida palace what he would do now? #WWXD?

What we know is that instead of talking about trade with China, this airstrike has taken precedence. “One of the most urgent issues for the US is North Korea, which is trying to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the west coast of the US with a nuclear device. It fired a medium-range missile into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, the latest in a series of launches.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39517569

I wonder what North Korea is thinking this morning. That is truly our existential crisis. I’m living in a whirlwind of Seder preparation and packing, sometimes it feels like I’m sinking inside that car Huck was trapped in, bleeding and hallucinating. I wanted to wake up this morning and think it was all just a nightmare…what US president would bomb a country without notice against international law? Like Asia and Kim Jong-un, we are dealing with an unpredictable leader who travels from the Hill to the links at his Mar a Lago resort, treating his presidency like a lark.

I can only hope for our sake that Tillerson and Putin are fighting a fair proxy war, and that chemical weapons will never see the light of day again. Ask yourself four questions, Mah Nishtanah – 1) How was last night different from 1986?  2) Why did we only warn Russia of the attack? 3) Why is a chemical attack worse than a bomb? 4) Is this just another ploy to distract us from the Russian Connection?

And will somebody tell the South that a Passover section in the grocery store should NOT contain anything with flour! I’m going to try and make kugel muffins, with matzoh meal or potatoes. Wish me luck!  wide-spinach-kugel-cupcakesjpg

 

April showers are nourishing all the perennials we just planted, but if you are a migratory bird looking to nest in Florida, you’d be plain out of luck. Wading birds like egrets and herons depend on fresh, clean water from rivers meeting the sea in estuaries on our coasts for their food supply, and scientists have been putting on waders to count their nests this time of year. Considering Mr T’s deep cuts to the EPA, this Audubon report is troubling:

The latest South Florida Wading Bird Report, which was published last week, offers signs of trouble for the birds and the places they live. During this nesting season, which ran from December 2015 to July 2016, surveyors were disappointed to find 26,676 nests total. That’s just one-third the number of nests tallied during 2009, one of the best nesting years in decades, and the lowest nest census since the 2007-2008 season. Of the indicator species, only two (Great Egrets and White Ibises) met their nest recovery goals. The only bird to show an above-average nesting season last year was the Roseate Spoonbill. http://www.audubon.org/news/floridas-wading-birds-had-terrible-breeding-season-last-year

We had a Great Blue Heron swoop over our Rumson garage every morning to fish in the Shrewsbury River. When you live so close to the ocean, you begin to notice the rise and fall of tidewater by the line of black silt on your Corgis’ short legs, which would sometimes cover their bellies. “Swamp Dogs” was our affectionate term for Toots and Blaze. My sister Kay was kind enough to immortalize that mother/son duo in a 1993 watercolor.

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But it’s the long, stilt-like legs of Great Egrets that are helping them navigate the rising seawater levels due to Climate Change.

And now we have a circus/barker/climate/denier as the Leader of the Free World who would like to dismantle and disrupt the federal government, and return power to “the states.” I’ve always wondered why Republicans even pursue public service when they hate it so much! If any of you are still wondering about the loss of Arctic ice or if keeping that house your aunt left you on the Jersey Shore is a good idea, take a look at Leonardo diCaprio’s interactive global temperature map. It looks like there may be a quarter of Rumson left after the flood. Seriously.

“Every fraction of a degree of global warming sets in motion sea level rise that will profoundly threaten coastal cities across the world,” explains Dr. Benjamin Strauss from Climate Central. “[Our map] shows the incredible stakes and urgency of our climate choices.”

https://www.beforetheflood.com/explore/the-crisis/sea-level-rise/

Now that you’ve put in your city, and the visual has sunk in and maybe you’ve “woke up” think about these cuts to the federal budget. Keep calling your legislators people, dig out your Wellies (English for waders or rain boots), and start looking for higher ground while planning your retirement

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Dodging Rumors

It’s raining men here in the Blue Ridge. Well, not literally, but my spring spirit has dampened with another dreary, rainy day. And while some men are asking for immunity in order to testify in the Senate, my man has finished spreading mulch and planting ground cover. We’re hoping the pachysandra will take root and spread out in the Buddha shade garden; in the same way we’re hoping this Russian investigation will tie up all of Mr T’s loose, spidery, tail-ends of aides to the same conclusion.

The one about collusion with a foreign government to effect our election; the constellation of events all of our intel agencies have been telling us for weeks now. If the shoe fits, you’ve gotta convict, right?

Remember how well George W Bush could dodge a shoe at a press conference?

This president doesn’t have the timing, stamina or strength for that matter to dodge the kind of evidence that has been unfolding. And Sean Spicer can’t seem to stop himself from insulting women journalists. I’ve had to raise my hand plenty of times at Borough Council meetings over the years, and I’ve never had to endure the kind of humiliation we’ve seen currently at White House press briefings. I’ll shake my head just as much as I want, thank you very much! http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/3/28/15094444/sean-spicer-april-ryan-trump

Which leads me to my discovery, in the very back of the guest bedroom closet, of a Nicole Miller silk blouse that managed to survive two moves and many closet purges. It’s a multi-colored masterpiece of Warhol-style design I picked up in New York back in the day. The pattern consists of multiple newspaper headlines, and since I was a reporter, Bob gave it to me as a gift, while also buying a matching tie. Yes, we are that couple.

But standing out in the pattern is a young, smug-mug shot, the Donald when his hair was blonde and not orange…and the header reads: “Best Sex I’ve Ever Had!” 

When Andrea Wood pulled that gem out of its hiding place, she told me it may be the single best bit of vintage she’d ever discovered! I’ve begun to accept the fact that my early life of mid-century, ugly blonde furniture is now hip again, but my old clothes? So I took another look at that blouse, and decided to save it for posterity. Its tag said it was made in Korea in limited quantities, a New York edition, and would not be repeated. Maybe the Love Bug will wear it in high school?

We elected a guy who has to carry TicTacs at all times just in case a pretty girl comes within range of his id-driven personality. The old money, carriage set in Rumson would avoid publicity at all costs. But new money, like that young, bragadocious NY real estate mogul, would seek out the press, and play them to write his very own melody. That’s how he won the White House ultimately, and it may also be how he loses it.

This is what the New York Post was writing in 1990 about the Donald and Marla Maples back when he was still married to his first wife. He met Marla in 1989, about the same time I met Mr T at my brother’s NFL game, and the rumor was “a model” was in the wings. His divorce from Ivana was finalized in 1992. The sex quote was supposedly leaked by a friend of Marla’s, along with something she said about loving his hands.

“Donald is a believer in the big-lie theory,” his lawyer had told me. “If you say something again and again, people will believe you.”

“One of my lawyers said that?” Trump said when I asked him about it. “I think if one of my lawyers said that, I’d like to know who it is, because I’d fire his ass. I’d like to find out who the scumbag is!” http://www.vanityfair.com/magazine/2015/07/donald-ivana-trump-divorce-prenup-marie-brenner

Sex, lies, and rumors are candy to a certain kind of man. Like his weekends at Mar-a-Lago, his gilded age mansion once owned ironically by Mrs. Marjorie Merriweather Post, he is chasing a dream, or a nightmare, that nobody saw coming. Like Gatsby, his “Make America Great Again” pyramid scheme, built with Russian oligarch money on the backs of blue collar workers, will be his undoing.

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